GemSelect Newsletter - Halloween Themed Gems
Halloween is a popular fall festival, which is celebrated at the end of October each year and the "Jack-O'-Lantern" is a ubiquitous Halloween decoration. Halloween-themed jewelry can be made using golden orange gemstones, such as sapphires, spessartite garnets or citrine. The stones on the left are carved citrine gems. Alternatively, pavé-set spheres or gemstone beads, such as carnelian would make good gemstone Jack-O'-Lanterns. "Jack-O'-Lanterns" are pumpkins that are hollowed out and carved with a light inside. These bright orange fruit lanterns were not always fashioned out of pumpkins, but used to be made from turnips, beets, swedes or potatoes. When the European pilgrims traveled to the USA, they discovered pumpkins to be ideal for making the Halloween decorations, and now the rest of the world has followed suit.
Jack-'O-Lanterns come from Ireland, the origin of a legend of "Stingy Jack" which tells of a trickster called Jack who convinced the devil to turn into a coin so that he could buy a drink, and then trapped him with a crucifix. After promising not to take Jack's soul for a certain time, the devil is freed. When Jack meets the devil many years later, Jack begs for an apple before being dragged to hell. The devil obligingly climbs a tree to pick an apple for Jack, who tricks him once again by carving crucifixes around the tree. Satan is thus thwarted once again, so when Jack dies, he is denied access to both heaven and hell. Therefore, Jack is doomed to roam the netherworld in search of victims to lure into hell, with only an ember from hell inside a carved turnip to light his way. According to the story, Irish folk carved scary faces into turnips and other vegetables, lit them with embers and placed them outside their doors to discourage the ghost of Stingy Jack and other spirits that roam the earth at Halloween, when the veil between the spirit world and us is said to be at its thinnest.
Making Jack-'O-Lanterns is an art that can be practiced by anyone, young or old. The pumpkins for sale nowadays are much easier to carve than those of yesteryear. If only these were available many years ago when as a child, the author would be given an enormous swede for carving at Halloween. For those who have not encountered a swede, it is one of the hardest root vegetables known to man. For safety, a spoon would be the tool of choice given to young children. Perhaps hours of amusement and a quiet house was the aim. Modern pumpkins have been specially cultivated for easy carving. Some pumpkin farms are tourist attractions which offer all manner of family fun and activities. A few farms in the USA combine pumpkins with gem mining for families to get an opportunity to feel the excitement of prospecting and learn a little about gemstones. This is a great idea for any budding gemologist.
Though swedes make for challenging carving, they are incredibly soft compared to gemstones, which are expertly carved and faceted. A fun idea for fall is to create Halloween-inspired jewelry. This can be done by carving gems into spooky shapes. One of the finest examples of this is the work of Shinji Nakaba, a Japanese jeweler who carves skulls out of pearls. The tiny "wearable sculptures" are intricately detailed and appear very realistic. They can be worn as rings, pendants, brooches or earrings.
Other fall-themed jewelry includes pumpkin colored jade; a yellow to orange colored jade which is commonly carved into decorative objects, including vegetables. It is sometimes referred to as "amber jade". Though emerald green is the most valuable color for jade, it occurs in practically every color of the rainbow, from white to black. Jade is particularly important in China and pumpkins are a symbol of good health, prosperity and abundance in Chinese culture, perhaps this is because of their golden color and rotund shape. Pumpkins are traditionally eaten along with moon cakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival in China.
The most valuable pumpkin-themed piece of jewelry must be the pumpkin diamond; one of the largest natural orange diamonds in the world. This 5.54-carat fancy vivid orange diamond achieved a price-per-carat record at a Sotheby's New York auction in 1997. The Pumpkin Diamond sold for $1.3 million or $238,718 per carat. This record was surpassed by another fancy vivid orange diamond weighing 4.19 carats, which was auctioned for $2.9 million or $705,587 per carat. This means that the current value of the Pumpkin Diamond has increased. The Pumpkin Diamond was unearthed in the Central African Republic. It was purchased in 1997 by diamond dealer, William Goldberg and cut into a cushion shape before being sold to Harry Winston and flanked by two white diamonds in a platinum ring. The ring had a moment of fame when it was worn on the pinky finger of actress, Halle Berry to the Oscars in 2002, where she received an Oscar for her role in the movie, "Monster's Ball". The Pumpkin Diamond was then exhibited by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC along with six other rare diamonds. For three months in the summer of 2003, members of the public were able to gaze upon the seven precious jewels.
Whatever you do this Halloween, we at GemSelect would like to wish you a very happy one. Whether you create a Jack-O'-Lantern or a piece of jewelry for Halloween, it should get you into the swing of things and also keep the spirit of Stingy Jack at bay.
One of the official birthstones for October is tourmaline (the other is opal). Those who are fortunate enough to have tourmaline as their birthstone have an unbelievable amount of choice with this colorful gemstone. Tourmaline can be found in almost every color, size, shape and cutting style imaginable. Some tourmaline gems even show two or more colors in a single stone. A rising star, tourmaline has soared in popularity over the past few years and is now being seen on red carpets and in jewelry stores more than ever before. If you or your loved one has a birthday in October, tourmaline is the perfect treat that is ideal for eye-catching cocktail rings and almost any other jewelry application.
Sphalerite is a gem type that not many people have heard of. It is known for having in incredibly high dispersion; higher than that of diamond. This means that sphalerite emits amazing flashes of color. Combined with this "fire" is sphalerite's high refractive index, giving it wonderful brilliance. As if this is not enough, sphalerite gems may also have an adamantine (diamond-like) luster, which make them sparkle even more. Sphalerite is not one of the hardest gemstones, so it is best used for necklace pendants, earrings or occasional-wear rings.
We have been lucky enough to recently find some untreated 1-carat rubies. Unheated rubies are becoming harder and harder to source with global prices rising each year, yet rubies remain the quintessential red gemstone. Rubies are referred to as the "king of gems" and have been said to impart power, passion and prosperity to their wearers, so much so that Burmese rubies were not only the king of gems, but also the gems of kings. The excellent hardness of ruby makes it suitable for any jewelry use and the fluorescence of ruby makes it appear to glow in daylight, mesmerizing many.
Jane Fonda's opal engagement ring from first husband, Ted Turner achieved over $19,000 in an auction of her private belongings. The yellow gold, 0.55-ct black opal ring with white diamond side stones was only expected to sell for up to $4,000. In the same auction, her suite of Georgian amethyst jewelry reached almost $18,000. This shows how important provenance is when it comes to price.
One of the largest-known faceted blue topaz gems will soon be on public display in the Natural History Museum of London, England. The Ostro Stone is named after the family that has owned it for several decades. The 9.381-carat gemstone is on permanent loan from Maurice Ostro OBE, whose father, Max Ostro found the stone in Minas Gerais, Brazil several decades ago. The Ostro Stone will be on public display from 19th October.
A jadeite bangle is set to top the auction at Sotheby's, Hong Kong this month. The "grade A" emerald-green jadeite bangle described as "highly important" is expected to achieve up to 9 million USD, surpassing the expectations for "The Pride of Kashmir'; a very rare 20.22-carat, royal blue Kashmir sapphire set into a diamond and platinum ring by Harry Winston. The beautiful ring is expected to sell for up to 5.8 million USD. The importance of jade in Chinese culture and rarity of this translucent green jadeite bangle is reflected in the expected price.
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- First Published: September-27-2016
- Last Updated: June-14-2017
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